Annette Vanderwoerd has been at Trinity Christian School in Burlington for 16 or 17 years, she recalls — long enough to see a wide range of young people grow and develop into confident young adults.
Earlier this year she carried on the tradition of the school science fair, which is at once a chance to encourage the budding curiosity of would-be scientists and an exercise in the communication skills necessary to proceed through life with confidence.
“Being able to communicate some of their Christian perspective on some of the things that they’ve learned is kind of a culmination of their whole school experience,” says Vanderwoerd.
Everything from writing and oral communication to basic life skills come into play with the science fairs, she says. Simply learning the value of eye contact and a confident hand shake is something the kids come away with after the experience.
“Some of them are just sick with nerves because of the idea of having to share with somebody,” she says, “but by the time they’re finished our science fair they’re quite confident.”
Following the Trinity Christian School event she chooses four or five students to represent the school at the Biennial Christian Schools Science Fair at Ancaster’s Redeemer University College, where Trinity placed third as a school this year.
She also chose 15 students to attend the Bay Area Science and Engineering Fair (BASEF) where they joined other students from Catholic and public boards.
“When they go on to Redeemer and BASEF, they’re much less nervous and they actually enjoy the interviews because they enjoy the interest that people take in their projects,” says Vanderwoerd.
“It was actually quite nice because some of the students were asked questions by judges about their Christian perspectives,” she adds.
“They’ve put in a lot of hard work, so it’s a wonderful experience for them in terms of oral communication and sharing their work and their thoughts.”